Bibliotheca Brookeriana III: Art, architecture and illustrated books

Bibliotheca Brookeriana III: Art, architecture and illustrated books

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 502. De l'Orme, Le premier tome de l'architecture, Paris, 1567, Parisian black morocco gilt à la fanfare.

De l'Orme, Le premier tome de l'architecture, Paris, 1567, Parisian black morocco gilt à la fanfare

Auction Closed

July 9, 02:57 PM GMT


150,000 - 200,000 GBP

Lot Details


De l'Orme, Philibert. Le Premier tome de l'architecture de Philibert de l'Orme conseiller et aumosnier ordinaire du Roy & Abbé de S. Serge les Angiers. Paris: Fédéric Morel, 1567

First edition, first issue of the first significant architecture book written by a French author, Philibert de L'Orme (1514-1570). A large paper copy, ruled in red, sumptuously bound in a primitive fanfare binding attributed to the Atelier au Vase, and richly illustrated.

Philibert de L'Orme was appointed architecte du roi to Henri II in 1547. Notable projects of his career included the Château d'Anet for Diane de Poitiers, a bridge for the château of Chenonceau, as well as the tomb of François I at Saint-Denis. Following the death of Henri II in 1559, de L'Orme fell from favour, losing his position and relocating briefly to Italy. It was during this time he conceived the notion of producing a comprehensive humanist architectural treatise. In 1561 de L’Orme published his Nouvelles inventions (see lot 501), a planned component of Le Premier Tome, which was only added to editions printed from 1626 onwards. In 1564 Catherine de’ Medici appointed de L’Orme as architect on the palace of the Tuileries: this first edition of Le Premier Tome was published three years later 1567 and was dedicated to his new patron.

As the son of a master mason, much of Le Premier tome acts as a guide to stereotomy; the art of cutting materials such as stone or wood into complementary shapes which can then be assembled into complex structures such as vaults and trompes. De L'Orme exhorted the value of architects and masons to study geometry, referring them to the works of Euclid. This treatise also provides practical advice, cautioning readers to be considerate of local building materials, the soil of the site and the prevailing winds. 

The ornate black morocco gilt primitive fanfare binding has been attributed to the Atelier au Vase, a Parisian shop that produced work for Mahieu, Grolier and Laubespine (see lot 653, with identical azured fleuron stamps; the privilege for the present volume was actually issued by Laubespine). This copy features prolific use of a gilt cypher formed by the uppercase Greek letters lamba (Λ) and eta (Η). This could plausibly be the monogram of Louis de Gonzague, duc de Nevers (1539-1595), and his wife Henriette de Clèves. A similar monogram, using a lowercase lambda, appears on the bindings of some copies of the first two printings of the statutes of a charitable foundation they established for the benefit of poor girls (Paris 1579, 1588), and on some copies of a treatise on the coinage of the duchy of Rethel (Paris 1585). The brown morocco border decorated with the monogram is likely an imitation of a binding found in the royal library of Henri II: Firmicus Maternus, Astronomicon, 1551, has a red morocco border with the heraldic monograms of Henri II and Diane de Poitiers. The use of a double lambda monogram also appears on a binding possibly made for Louise de Lorraine (see lot 521). All this indicates a link to the royal court for this binding and its first owner.

In this copy the endleaves have the same watermarks as the printed text (Briquet 7079), suggesting that it may be a presentation copy, bound for de L’Orme and presented to prospective clients. A large paper copy of Le Premier Tome, also in a primitive fanfare binding, was presented to the dedicatee Catherine de’ Medici.

Loosely inserted is a nineteenth-century manuscript account in French of this copy.

Folio (394 x 278 mm), large paper copy. Roman and italic type. collation: ã4 ẽ6 a-n6 o4 p2 q6 r4 s-z6 A-C6 D2 E-M6 N4 O-Y6 Z4 Aaa-Ddd6 Eee4: 300 leaves (e6 and final leaf blank, a few bifolia bound at edge to make a foldout leaf). Title-page with architectural border and diagrams, woodcut headpieces and initials, 205 woodcut illustrations, 74 of which are full-page. Ruled in red.

binding: Strictly contemporary Parisian black morocco (402 x 287 mm), attributed to the Atelier au Vase, richly gilt, primitive fanfare style with central roundel of red morocco and outer border of brown morocco, with gilt monogram ΗΛ in two different sizes, stubs from two pairs of fabric ties, flat spine with decoration à la fanfare, edges gilt, endleaves with same watermark as the text [Briquet 7079]. (Joints cracked, lower endband detached.)

provenance: monogram Λ and H, plausibly Louis de Gonzague, duc de Nevers (1536-1595), and Henriette de Clèves (1542-1601) — "No. 6" written in ink on inside front cover in an early hand, and "440", ink number in red on lower flyleaf — Earl of Sunderland, Blenheim Palace, library shelfmark 108.H 3, sale of the Sunderland Library, Puttick and Simpson, 25 July 1882, lot 7583 — Hippolyte Destailleur (1822-1893), sale, Delestre and Morgand, Paris 20-31 May 1895, lot 305 — Martine, Comtesse de Béhague (1870-1939), by descent to — Marquis Hubert de Ganay (1922-1974), HH booklabel, sold by his heirs, Christie's, Paris, 26 November 2019, lot 84. acquisition: Purchased at the preceding sale. references: Mortimer, Harvard French 355; Fowler 99; cf. Marie-Pierre Laffitte and Fabienne Le Bars, Reliures royales de la Renaissance, la Librairie de Fontainebleau 1544-1570, p. 186

Please note that the lower endband is detached but present.